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Friday, January 4, 2008

Whatchoo Got in Your Drawers?

Rouge Wavers, it's sad. It's just sad that the Wave-inatrix increasingly has a mind like a sieve. But it's true. I cannot remember whether I already posted this on the Rouge Wave and I'm too lazy to find out. But it strikes me that whether it's a rerun or not, this is a great topic for this time of year:

Do you have a script in the drawer that you never quite finished? Or that you did but something was just not working? We all have skeletons in our closet – er, scripts in the drawer. Some we forget about – maybe we even take them out back and put them out of their misery in a trash bin with some gasoline and a match - or maybe that’s just me. But some scripts from our pasts we just can’t forget about. Every few months, they whisper softly, in a sexy siren call that they’d like to be resurrected. That they never had a chance. That you’re so much better as a writer now that surely, surely this time you can make those pages sing.

How do you know whether you really should resurrect a script or whether that voice in your head is just like the other voices and should be ignored at all costs, especially in public?

Nobody wants to waste time on a script. God knows it’s hard enough to find the time to write even on a good week. So what do you do – move onward, ever onward, or take stock of your older material to see if there’s a diamond in the rough that deserves another shot?

There is no sure-fire answer but it is the Wave-inatrix’s opinion that your decision-making process should largely be driven by your passion for the story. Sure, maybe the script is in bad shape, maybe the premise is not executed well and the structure sucks. But if there’s something essentially fascinating, moving, funny or nightmarish about the original idea that you just can’t shake – it might be worth another look.

So what do you do if you decide to get back to work on old material? What does that process look like? I’d suggest sitting down with the script in a quiet, focused environment and simply reading it through – don’t take notes, just read. What is your impression? Do you still connect with the material?

Make a list of what is working and not working. Now read the script again, this time with a highlighter in hand and take a few notes – are there distinct problem areas? Now make a list for the script. In order for it to reach it’s highest creative potential, what is the laundry list of issues, by element, that the script seems to need work in?

If this sounds a whole lot like you’re being a reader for your own script – you are. The one downside is that this is your baby and it’s hard to create and maintain objective distance. If you can afford to hire a consultant such as myself to do this process for you, that’s a great idea. If you’d rather do it yourself, for whatever set of reasons, just be sure to put that Objective Hat on – press it down hard, you’ll need it.

Now make a rewrite plan for your script beginning with the overarching premise and how that’s working. Go element by element in terms of that rewrite plan: premise, character/dialogue, structure/narrative, logic/world, craft/style, execution – where is the script lacking? How can your more developed skill set be brought to bear?

No one can afford to waste time, that’s for sure. But could it be that you have a script lying around that is deserving of your attention and that would otherwise become just a dusty experiment that never got its due? We can’t waste time but we can’t waste our stories, either. Take a look at your inventory. Anything with potential there?
ShowHype: hype it up!

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